Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Wheel's Turn: Staying Healthy in Deep Autumn

As Samhain marked the third and final harvest festival, it is often considered the end of Summer and beginning of Winter, though in my woods I must admit I look at this time as deep Autumn, a chance to welcome the brisk air into my lungs and the Pleiades back into the sky. In the Woods and Fields, the little people are stockpiling the last of their acorns and seeds, most of the trees’ leaves have fallen, and only a few late goldenrods, asters, and tenacious apples add vivid color to the muted wash of late fall’s beauty. The still-green grass lies protected under a blanket of maple and birch leaves. Despite the silver filigree of light frosts, the wild motherwort and mints are vibrant against the unfrozen soil, protected by the hollow stalks of their taller, grassy kin.
For us busy humans, these next few weeks are a time of respite after the harvest and before the chaos of the holiday season.

As a society, we tend to get very manic around the beginning of Winter, which is the opposite of what our bodies crave. Modern life doesn’t encourage us to stay burrowed and hibernating when the snow tells us to, nor does it allow us to change our pace to the slower, less frenetic pace that our bodies crave. Instead, we go to work and school and the gym expecting to have the same Summer energy levels, and blow through most of our winter reserves before reaching the Winter solstice! No wonder we work so hard to jolly up the season; we’re scared of what will happen when we burn out in January!
It doesn’t have to be like that. Mama Gaia says that’s not the way the Wheel works.
When a person forgets to honor the seasons, he or she can fall prey to dis-ease. When a culture tries to push through the darkness with an endless stream of buying and decorating and gorging and holiday spice-ing, they too are out of balance. The urge to dance in the dark is very real (and ancient), but taken to extremes, it can leave us even more depleted than if we hadn’t honored the season at all.

In this cold climate, our mammalian bodies are undergoing some serious changes.
Without the freshness of local fruits and leafy vegetables, our vitamin and mineral intake is lowered. Digestion changes with the seasons to a slower, winterized rate, so probiotics are extra important right now! Metabolism slows to conserve energy. Our circulatory system works extra-hard to keep our core organs warm, at the expense of our extremities. With less sunlight, we have less vitamin D, which causes us to store calories as fat instead of burning them as energy, changes our skin and hair, and especially affects our mood. Our circadian rhythm changes and our wake-sleep cycle adapts to shorter days, making us want -and need!- to sleep more. For people with Seasonal Affective Disorder, lowered seratonin levels and heightened melatonin levels may lead to trouble sleeping, increasing their seasonal depression. Our immune systems, hormones, and endocrine systems respond as well. Joints stiffen and mobility changes. Our respiratory system handles dry, recycled air, and has to work extra hard to stay moist and safe.

So how do we stay healthy? Ideally, we are sleeping more. We are also taking long walks in the sunlight. Despite the fact that at this latitude the sun is no longer is able to supply us with the Vitamin D it does in the warmer months, we still experience a host of mood- and health-boosting benefits from its presence. We are keeping our cores warm, as well as our extremities. We are drinking lots of nettle and alfalfa tea for vitamins, and we have moved away from cold drinks to hot ones. We are supporting our immune systems by eating cultured foods and supplementing with Vitamin D in mushroom or supplement form (I personally aim for 10,000 IUs a day from now until April, far above the suggested 2,000).
We are also taking adaptogens, such as reishi, ashwaganda, tulsi, schisandra, rhodiola, ginseng, and eleuthero. Adaptogens are a small classification of safe herbs that help the body to handle stress, both short and long term, by counteracting any adverse effects of a physical, chemical, or biological stressor by generating non-specific resistance. They pair well with tonic herbs (such as nettles, milky oat, and rose), nervines (such as skullcap and catnip), as well as herbs that support cognition and mental health (such as bacopa, ginko, gotu-kola, and rosemary).

And finally -and perhaps most importantly: Just as the plants go inward to conserve and replenish their energy, we are also careful to honor our need for quiet, solitude, comfort, and gentle comforts. Though our culture pushes us to go, go, go, Nature tells us to slow, slow, slow. Honor that rhythm.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Woodland Dance Party (and some Autumnal advice)

It is getting colder and darker, that's true, but fear not! In this video I'll share some loving hints to help you stay happy and healthy during this time of transition, Green Witch style! Blessings,
Blackbird's Daughter

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sacred Gaia Herbal Apprenticeship

Honoring the Wild Wisdom of Nature, within and without 



Have you been craving a spirit-centered relationship with the Earth? Do you want to grow your practical, sacred, and intuitive skills as an herbalist, healer, Shaman? Is your soul calling out to Gaia…and is Gaia calling to your soul? This 12-month Certificate course is open to any individual who feels drawn to cultivating a deep, reciprocal, and joyful relationship with the Green World.

Woven naturally through the Year Wheel, we will:

  • Explore the ways that the season's patterns influence our own journeys.
  • Discover the primary body systems through multiple healing traditions, including Wise Woman, Western herbalism, Native wisdom, Ayurveda, and others.
  • Build our own medicine chests of tinctures, syrups, powders, flower essences, teas, and salves
  • Prepare nourishing foods and drinks including mead, lacto-fermented foods, teas, spices, and wild edibles
  • Assemble a comprehensive materia medica and herbarium of wild and local herbs.
  • Create ritual tools including a pendulum, herbal wisdom oracle deck, Sacred perfume, smudge sticks and medicine pouch.
  • Hone your plant identification and wildcrafting skills
  • Develop your intuition through dowsing, plant communication, sacred journeying
  • Explore archetypal patterns and plant and animal totems
  • Create sacred space and individual and group rituals including building altars, vision boards, creative journaling, and celebrating lunar stages, Solstices and Equinoxes.
Apprenticeship Includes:
  • On-going assignments
  • Skype and phone check-ins
  • Working in Jessica’s in home apothecary

Are you ready to unlock your own Inner Wild Wisdom?

Apprenticeship meets in and around Williston, Vermont on: Sept 26-27, October 24-25, November 15th, November 25th (Skype Circle), December 19-20th, January 23-24th, February 20-21, March19-20, April 9-10, May 21-22, June 4-5, July 16-17, Aug 1-2

Cost: $1200. To hold your space, a deposit of half the tuition is required by Sept 16th unless otherwise agreed, and payment plans are available to those who require them. I offer this program at a low cost with the goal of making this wisdom available to more people. In return, I ask that participants agree to share some of what they learn with others, that the cycle of wellness spreads. This knowledge is our birthright. It is high time we claim it and pass it on.

To apply, email Jessica at blackbirdsdaughter@gmail.com or call (802) 578-7931.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

WANTED: Wise Woman's Assistant Position Filled

This is a magical opportunity for an aspiring herbalist, healer, wise woman (or man), or green witch who is seeking a unique work-study position. Flexible, part time hours with opportunity to work toward apprenticeship. Job duties include:

-typing/preparing notes
-compiling recipes
-organizing/inventorying herbs, essential oils, etc.
-blending, labeling, and packaging teas, perfumes, bitters, tinctures, etc.
-designing and creating packaging, labels, etc.
-building wholesale accounts and making deliveries
-writing and posting social media updates
-tending wood path, raised beds, and Sacred Grove (requires clearing/cutting brush, shoveling dirt, snow, compost, etc. Must be able to kneel, trek over uneven paths, use shovels, pruners, etc.)
-wildcrafting, drying, preparing herbs for home use (yours and mine)
-making kombucha, sour kraut, spice blends, extracts, syrups, oxymels, and other real foods
-assisting with vending at shows
-assisting with ceremonies, rituals, and classes (this might look like making sure we have the prepared materials, notes, decorations, etc, assisting with setting up altar, food/teas, greeting guests, organizing as we go, cleaning up afterwards, and tending to a very exhausted and/or elated Wise Woman and priestess post-event)
-talking to (but mostly listening to) plants, mushrooms, etc.
-cleaning, preparing work space, washing dishes, cleaning….did I say cleaning?!

The perfect assistant will be:
-Organized and structured - can you create order out of chaos? The right assistant will thrive on mythic tasks such as separating and organizing unruly piles of herbs into neatly drying baskets or carefully weighed bags.
-Focused yet cheerfully spontaneous - do you both enjoy venturing off the scheduled beaten path to explore something new, and also have the ability to call your (and my) attention back to the original task at hand? Do you take pleasure in Getting Stuff Done AND stopping to smell (and sing to) the roses?
-Accountable - This position requires clear communication and dedication. If you say you’ll show up, show up. If something feels awkward, bring it up. Let me rely on you to be present and grounded when I need to fly, and you can rely on me to be nurturing and supportive as you grow.
-Curious - Can you learn as you go? This is not a structured, apprenticeship, but rather an incredible opportunity to work along-side a skilled, knowledgeable, loving, and usually distracted Wise Woman… time will be given to make sure you understand the concepts behind the tasks, the mechanisms of herbal interactions, etc., but much of your learning will take place through conversations as we work together, recipes and articles we unearth and you catalog, and skills I teach you as they’re needed.
-Self-directed -Can you see tasks that need doing and do them? Are you able to receive direction and run with it independently, but not afraid to ask questions? 
-Creative - Do you just know the world is bigger, brighter, and more magical than most of us can see? Are you willing to expand your awareness and learn to connect with Gaia in ways others might think impossible? Do you love playing with nature, blending new recipes?
-Patient and easy-going - the wise woman in question is often temperamental, usually scattered, and filled with more ADD energy than you can shake a smudge stick at. This is NOT an easy combination to deal with! She is also kind-hearted, generous, and an incredible teacher. Flexibility and clear communication are essential.

Benefits include:
-Access to a wide variety of herbs, spices, essential oils, and an ever-changing collection of really delicious bitters and herbal cocktails
-Attendance at all classes, group ceremonies, Wisdom Circles, and other events.
-Herbal skill building - you will learn how to identify, gather, and prepare herbal foods, remedies, and medicines, including teas, tinctures, oils, smoking blends, etc., what different herbs are useful for and how to intuitively blend them
-Wild/whole food skills - you will learn how to identify, forage, grow, and prepare delicious and healthy foods from nature, including spices, kombucha, sour kraut, natural sodas, bitters, etc.
-Inspiration and support - You will quickly start building your own home apothecary, bar, and kitchen witch foods, making medicines for your friends and families, and healing yourself!
-Personal mentorship and support - You are on a sacred life journey, and part of my job is to act as a guide and mentor, supporting you as you grow and develop your own unique skills and passions! I will teach you, laugh and sing with you, but I will also challenge you to grow and learn in ways that will not always be easy - and it will be up to you to do the work.
-Sacred skill building - I will teach you how to dowse, feel energy in the Earth, communicate with plants and mushrooms, practice sacred journeying and meditation, and many other intuitive, magical, and practical skills. You will come out of this more witchy, grounded, wild, and whole than you ever thought possible, and the blessings you learn will be with you for life. It won’t always be easy, but it will be fun, exciting, and intensely rewarding.

If your soul has been calling out for a chance to live your own fairy tale, then Sister, you may have just manifested yourself a job!

To apply, email blackbirdsdaughter@gmail.com and tell me a little bit about yourself, what draws you to the position, and why you believe you are the assistant I’m summoning. Please include a resume and phone number. If called for an interview, you will need to provide 3 letters of reference. Position open until right candidate is found.

Copyright (c) 2009-2014 Jessica Bellantone. Please email me when reproducing content. Thank you!

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